Tribe launching expanded winter fuel assistance program

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AKWESASNE TERRITORY, N.Y. – The St. Regis Mohawk tribal council announced Sept. 22 that it is expanding its home heating fuel assistance program for the coming winter to all homes in the community that heat with fuel oil, kerosene or propane.

Last year’s program provided help to low-income and senior households.

The council recognizes that higher gas prices, higher home heating oil prices and higher food prices are forcing families to make difficult choices. Many community members may have to make tough choices this winter and choose between buying groceries and staying warm.

“We are fortunate that substantial financial contributions from our gaming enterprises put us in a position to help the community,” said Chief James W. Ransom. “Also, continuing revenue from fees assessed on tribal businesses, especially those selling cigarettes and fuel, make an expansion of the home heating fuel assistance program possible.”

“Rising home fuel costs have prompted us to take action to help our community,” said Chief Monica M. Jacobs. “Everyone is struggling these days with rising costs and we felt we had to do something about it.”

Record-high home heating costs are expected this winter, according to reports from around the country. Estimates show that many households can expect to pay from $600 to $1,500 more for their home heating costs this winter. The long, cold winters in northern New York will make it extremely difficult for families here to shoulder these additional costs.

“Expanding this program represents a major financial commitment on behalf of the tribe,” Lazore said. The tribe is expecting the expanded program to cost an estimated $1 million – $1.4 million to implement, depending on the cost of home heating fuel during the winter. The program will be operated by staff from the tribe’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
Eligible tribal members will receive 200 gallons of home heating oil or its equivalent amount in propane during the coming winter season. Eligibility will be based on tribal members being served by one of the tribe’s licensed fuel distributors.